Observations of seasonal and diurnal glacier velocities at Mount Rainier, Washington using terrestrial radar interferometry

Allstadt, K. E.; Shean, D. E.; Campbell, A.; Fahnestock, M.; Malone, S. D.
July 2015
Cryosphere Discussions;2015, Vol. 9 Issue 4, p4067
Academic Journal
We present spatially continuous velocity maps using repeat terrestrial radar interferometry (TRI) measurements to examine seasonal and diurnal dynamics of alpine glaciers at Mount Rainier, Washington. We show that the Nisqually and Emmons glaciers have small slope-parallel velocities near the summit (<0.2m day-1), high velocities over their upper and central regions (1.0-1.5m day-1), and stagnant debris-covered regions near the terminus (< 0.05m day-1). Velocity uncertainties are as low as ±0.02- 0.08m day-1. We document a large seasonal velocity decrease of 0.2-0.7m day-1 (-25 to -50 %) from July to November for most of the Nisqually glacier, excluding the icefall, suggesting significant seasonal subglacial water storage under most of the glacier. We did not detect diurnal variability above the noise level. Preliminary 2-D ice flow modeling using TRI velocities suggests that sliding accounts for roughly 91 and 99% of the July velocity field for the Emmons and Nisqually glaciers, respectively. We validate our observations against recent in situ velocity measurements and examine the long-term evolution of Nisqually glacier dynamics through comparisons with historical velocity data. This study shows that repeat TRI measurements with >10 km range can be used to investigate spatial and temporal variability of alpine glacier dynamics over large areas, including hazardous and inaccessible areas.


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